Campus News

Book grapples with Andean cloud forests’ socioecological classification

Within a transdisciplinary framework, the Andean cloud forest belt was appraised and recommended into a new ecoregion of its own: the Andean Flanks. A team of Franklin College faculty in the Neotropical Montology Collaboratory has produced a book, published in Spanish, by the Institute for Sustainable Development of Cloud Forest Research and the National University Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza of Amazonas in Peru.

Authors Fausto Sarmiento, professor in the department of geography, and Elena V. Sarmiento, Spanish instructor in the department of Romance languages, frame mountain conservation within convergent mountain science in this verdant ecoregion. The work was an outcome of the VULPES International Conference organized by the authors in Ecuador in 2019. VULPES was part of the Belmont Forum to promote global research on climate change in mountains, including teams from France, Belgium, Italy, Brazil, China, Morocco, Denmark, Canada and the U.S., thus, colleagues from all continents contributed text-boxes and case studies to the book.

With a hint of decolonial scholarship, the book debunks the archaic generalization of altitudinal belts and elevational gradients as unresponsive to the ecological legacy of manufactured mountainscapes, which currently are a prime concern for conservation and development planning. The cloud forests of the Andes harbor significant biocultural diversity and represent a key ecoregion to adapt to uncertain futures in the changing climates of these socioecological landscapes. “Andean Flanks” is illustrated with astonishing color pictures throughout 12 chapters, each starting with a poetic epigraph, making it an environmentaleducation tool for local students and a guide for professional conservation planners and decision-makers.